2014 Houston Rockets Predictions and NBA Futures Odds
by George Monroy - 10/20/2014
The Houston Rockets believe they are a title contender and that last year's disappointing loss during the first round of the playoffs was a temporary hiccup and not a larger indictment on the James Harden-Dwight Howard partnership. General Manger Daryl Morey has remained proactive with his team over the last two seasons and is not content on simply building a contender -- he wants to bring another title to Houston at all costs.
As a result, Morey went into the offseason intent on signing another big-name free agent, and he shipped off three valuable assets in order to clear salary-cap space for a potential Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh signing that never happened. The Rockets weakened their standing in the always-tough Western Conference, yet they still have the talented core of Harden and Howard to lead the way. Let's take a closer look at Houston's 2014 futures odds with predictions and analysis.
2014 Houston Rockets Betting Story Lines
Houston took a huge risk during the offseason by clearing so much cap space and essentially taking a shot in the dark that a big-name free agent would sign with the organization even though there were no hints or rumors that such a scenario could happen. Bosh was never leaving Miami-he was either going to stay with LeBron James or become the team's new alpha dog-and expecting the all-star forward to take less money in order to become a third option one more time was unrealistic.
Last season the Rockets ended up fourth in the Western Conference with a 54-28 record and still have enough talent come close to that mark again this year, even though they may be worse off as a team. At this point Houston revolves around Harden and Howard, which should be good enough to push the team past 50 wins but not nearly enough to overtake the top four or five squads in the conference.
2014 Houston Rockets Additions and Departures
Key Additions: Trevor Ariza, Jason Terry
Key Departures: Omer Asik, Omri Casspi, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons
Houston let four excellent players and key contributors to last season's squad walk for nothing-Asik, Casspi, Lin and Parsons will all play significant minutes for their new teams-and as a result the Rockets were left scrambling during the final days of free agency to add valuable pieces to fill out their roster. The organization, however, was able to sign Trevor Ariza, who was coming off an excellent campaign in Washington, to a four-year deal to go along with its signing of veteran-guard Jason Terry. The Terry signing was more of a gamble with the hope that the former NBA champion still has a few more great years left in the tank.
2014 Houston Rockets Futures Odds
NBA Title Odds: +3000 (eighth)
Western Conference Odds: +1500 (fifth)
Division Odds: +500 (second)
Win Total: O/U 49.5
MVP: James Harden +3000; Dwight Howard +6000
Houston took a step back roster-wise, and if the team was not a contender last season, it is highly unlikely that this season will be any different. Howard still struggles to produce on a nightly basis and becomes almost useless during the final minutes of a close game, which causes the squad's offense to break down and turn into the James Harden show. This year the team will rely even more on both players. While Harden continues to elevate his game, Howard would need to have a resurgent year in order for Houston to compete for an NBA title.
The Rockets play in one of the toughest division in the league, which saw four teams earn 49 wins or more last year and with both Dallas and San Antonio expected to have excellent seasons, Houston's division odds may not be the best bet. The strongest futures wager on the board is the team's win total of 49.5.
Yes, Houston regressed by letting go of key players, but the Harden-Howard tandem is still talented enough to win 50 games during a regular season that is more about scoring than playing high-level defense. The Rockets will not truly struggle until they reach the postseason, where the game slows down and throwing the ball to Harden late in the fourth quarter will not be enough to succeed.
2014 Houston Rockets Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
Playoffs: First-round exit
Division: Third place
MVP: A Top 5 finish for Harden
Houston will be one of those teams that gamblers who do not regularly follow the NBA expect to be much better than they actually are. The team has two high-profile players and will be receiving a lot of media attention throughout the year, which will draw the general public to their lines and probably inflate those spreads. Last season the Rockets produced a 44-42-2 ATS mark, but expect that number to fall as they do not have enough talent to cover shaded spreads on a nightly basis.
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